Classroom-based digital games can help teachers engage students in high-quality learning. Games can also offer teachers a wealth of formative assessment data that they can use to improve student learning. Yet there has been little research on how teachers can use gameplay data to monitor students’ understanding and what kinds of supports they need to use the data.

EDC’s Playing with Data study addressed these questions. In the study, researchers explored whether and how an educative data dashboard could help teachers use digital gameplay data to identify students’ needs and make decisions about instruction.

Key Activities

The research team carried out the following activities:

  • Used design-based research methods to redesign a data dashboard for Mars Generation One, a digital game that introduces students to the basic skills of argumentation
  • Developed a suite of supportive materials to help teachers use the dashboard’s data to guide their instruction
  • Created an interview-based assessment of teacher engagement in six components of data-driven decision-making
  • Conducted two pilot studies on teachers’ use of the dashboard
  • Led a clustered randomized impact study with 27 teachers and approximately 400 students that compared teachers with and without access to the supportive materials


The impact study found the following:

  • Promising evidence indicates digital dashboards that are intentionally designed with educative features can support teachers’ data literacy and data-driven decision-making.
  • On average, teachers with access to the supportive materials outperformed their peers in their ability to use data to monitor student learning and inform their instruction.

Learn More

National Science Foundation

GlassLab (LRNG)